Sake in Japanese refers to "alcoholic beverage", encompassing in this definition any alcoholic beverage such as wine, liquor or beer. Today we use popularly and internationally the term "sake" to refer to the Japanese (alcoholic) beverage made from the fermentation of rice. However, in Japan, this drink is known as nihonshu or shochu.
The origin of nihonshu (popularly "sake") is still uncertain, and there are many versions around this drink. One of them maintains that it was introduced from China after the incorporation of rice cultivation in Japan.
The curious thing about this drink is that formerly in its elaboration process, the priestesses chewed the cooked rice so their saliva could contribute with sugar to the process. When this first phase was concluded, the fermentation phase of the rice was continued from yeasts of wild origin. After many centuries and with a more polished and evolved production technique, sake came to be considered a noble and sacred drink.
The ingredients used in its preparation are rice, water, yeast and koji (it is a fungus that is grown in steamed rice). Even though these are the basic ingredients of the nihonshu recipe, nowadays there are many varieties according to the ingredients used in their preparation and the technique used.
In general, nihonshu is a strong, thick and slightly sweet drink. In Japan, depending on the time of year and the food that is going to be consumed, it can be served hot, cold or tempered.
Due to its international popularity, it is not difficult to find this drink in food stores specializing in Asian products.
June 18, 2018
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